Egypt referendum: new beginnings

By January 16, 2014
(Photo courtesy Ruth Kramer)

(Photo courtesy Ruth Kramer)

Egypt (MNN) — Egyptians formed long queues to vote yesterday, the second and final day of a key referendum on the country’s new constitution.

One Egyptian Christian leader described the scene on Wednesday this way:

[Sic] This is the second day in the voting for the new constitution draft. I made sure to stand in the line an hour before the polls were opened at 9:00 am. The line got quite long quickly. The overall atmosphere I felt as I stood in the line waiting for the doors to be opened was a great sense of optimism for the approval of the new constitution and for moving on with the road map.

People were still sleepy, so not much was being said yet. The great difference in attitude I felt, however, this time from the people standing around me compared to our last vote for the Muslim Brotherhood constitution of 2012 was a great tendency to celebrate a new Egypt that returned us back from the iron grip of radical Muslims.

Incidents of violence during yesterday’s voting resulted in 10 dead and 21 injured due to Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacking voters or voting centers in Cairo and a couple of other cities. Please continue to pray with us for God’s peace to cover our land today and the coming days.

The vote is a milestone in a military-backed political roadmap toward new elections for a president. It’s also the litmus test of the public attitude toward the coup that removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power last July.

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

President and CEO of Open Doors USA David Curry just returned from Egypt on Tuesday. He says, “With this instability, it’s greatly cut into their economy, and I think they’re hoping to move on. The people are generally excited about a chance for some stabilization.”

More to the point, he says, “The last couple of years have really been what we’re calling an ‘Arab Winter’ in Egypt where the Islamic radical forces–those that would be less about religion and more about regimes–cracked down on Christians.”

After months of living in fear of attacks, the government finally declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. That, plus the actions of the caretaker government, has led to optimism among believers. “The voting yesterday and today in Egypt is largely a positive step. I think the Christian community there is looking at this as an opportunity for some more freedoms.”

The new charter is to replace the constitution passed during the rule of Morsi before he was removed last July. Polls closed on Wednesday at 19:00 GMT. Although the final results aren’t expected until Friday or Saturday, observers think the vote will endorse the new constitution.

However, the road to a recuperated Egypt is a long one. Curry warns, “I think there are concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood is not going to go quietly. They had an opportunity to rule, and it didn’t go well. They did not effectively govern the nation.”

With the changes over the summer, and now a referendum, Curry adds, “The Muslim Brotherhood has a political weakness. They’re going to be on the outside now for a long time, and they’re going to continue to lash out. But I hope that the government will take steps to protect soft targets like churches.”

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors)

Christian Egyptians are fervently praying for peace in the country. They are asking Christians in the West to join with them in prayer, especially in the aftermath when the results are announced. Curry says, “Pray–especially in south Egypt, outside of Cairo, and some of these areas–for their protection. There are some very radical forces in the more rural areas that make it very dangerous for Christians. Pray for security of their churches so people can worship in freedom without fear of being blown up or shot.”

Due to the attacks on Christians and churches last year, Egypt rose to the rank of #22 on the 2014 World Watch list, a ranking of the top 50 countries where persecution is the most severe. Curry reiterates the need. “I just feel like it’s very raw right now in Egypt, and we need to pray for their [believers’] protection.”   Click here if you want to take action.

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